Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Declaring YES and NO

Many of us are in the habit of squelching our true desires and living by someone else’s rules. Saying what we want and don’t want can sometimes be one of the hardest things a person can do. As children, many of us were told what to do, how to act, to keep our heads down and our mouths shut, and we accepted these directives as guides for “appropriate” behavior.

As adults, we often continue to live like this without identifying and saying what is true for us today. Being good boys and girls takes precedence over our real desires out of not wanting to offend, create conflict, risk censure, or venture too far outside of comfort zones. There are many costs to this approach to life – specifically, full self-expression and living life on our own terms. As adults, it is our duty to live in alignment with our values…and that starts with getting clear.

There is nothing selfish about identifying our wants and needs and making them known. There is nothing wrong with creating boundaries with people in our lives (personal, professional, romantic). By defining our desires and creating parameters in the world, we are shaping our experience. We are being true to what is important to us, standing up for ourselves, and taking responsibility for creating versus reacting to our world. And we are modeling behavior for others by giving them permission to do this for themselves.

This starts with the act of declaration. Declare what you want and don’t want by identifying what you are willing to say YES to and what you are willing to say NO to. These statements will be pretty obvious when you look at your common complaints or challenges, or even where you notice where you have a strong commitment to something or someone.
Start with the statement: “I declare I am saying [YES/NO] to...”
For example, in the area of money, a YES statement might look like: I declare I am saying YES to putting $50 a week into my savings account. In the same category, a NO statement might look like: I declare I am saying NO to going over my budget each month. In relationships, it may be “YES to giving love without condition” and “NO to going to bed angry.”

Create a list with 5-10 YES and NO declarations in each category. Look over the various areas of the Wheel of Life to get some ideas for categories. Some suggestions: Career, Money, Relationships, Family, Time Management, and Health.

By getting clear and declaring what you want and don’t want, you are raising your level of awareness and giving yourself the possibility of choice in the moment. When next confronted with something that counters your wants/needs/declarations, it will be more obvious to you what choice you really want to make. You can choose to honor your declaration, or continue to act unconsciously with knee-jerk responses.

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